India marks Independence Day amid Kashmir unrest

At least seven soldiers wounded in attacks as prime minster asks youths to shun violence in Independence Day speech.

Unrest continues in Kashmir
Authorities have imposed curfew across Kashmir since July 9 after a surge in violence [EPA]

Indian officials say at least seven paramilitary troops have been wounded, three critically, after assailants attacked them in Srinagar, the main city of Indian-administered Kashmir.

KK Sharma, a top official of the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force (CRPF), said the attacks came on Monday as India celebrated the anniversary of its independence from Britain.

Authorities have imposed a curfew in large parts of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, since July 9 during a surge in violence prompted by the killing of a top separatist commander a day earlier.

The first attack on Monday took place in Srinagar’s Nowhatta neighbourhood when suspected separatist fighters attacked troops on patrol to enforce a curfew, Sharma said.

He said the second attack occurred in the Khanyar neighbourhood.

The AFP news agency quoted a CRPF spokesman as saying that that 10 officers were wounded in the attacks.

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Bhuvesh Chaudhary said seven paramilitary personnel were injured in the Nowhatta attack and three others in the second incident.

Another security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said intermittent gunfire could be heard in the neighbourhood and it was not yet clear how many attackers were involved.

More than 50 civilians have been killed and thousands more injured  in clashes since July 9 between Kashmiri protesters and Indian security forces, in the worst violence to hit the Himalayan region since 2010.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in August 1947 but both claim the territory in full.

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It is the epicentre of a separatist movement, with several armed groups fighting Indian troops and police as they seek either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Monday’s attacks in Kashmir coincided with the annual Independence Day speech by Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi.

Although he made no direct reference to the situation in Kashmir, he made a general appeal for youths to steer clear of violence and promised jobs for young people.

“I want to tell these youths that this country will never tolerate terrorism, this country will never tolerate terrorists and this country will never bow down to terrorists,” he said.

Source: News Agencies